The Following of Christ
Many love Jesus’ heavenly kingdom and look forward to it, but few love to bear his cross.
Many come to Jesus seeking consolations, but few thank him for the trouble that brought them there.
Many come to sit at Jesus’ banquet table, but few join him in his fasts.
We all want to rejoice with Jesus, but few of us want to suffer for his sake.
Many like to eat Jesus’ bread, but few will drink from the cup of his pain.
Many admire Jesus’ miracles, but few delight in the humiliation of his cross.
Many love Jesus when no adversity befalls them. Many praise and bless him as long as they receive some consolation from him. But when Jesus hides himself and leaves them for a little while, they begin to complain and become depressed.
Those that love Jesus for Jesus’ sake, and not for their own consolation, praise him in all tribulation and distress—just like they do while things go well. Even if Jesus would never give them then any consolation again, these people would always praise and thank him.
Oh, how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, free from all self-love and self-interest!
It is the hirelings—not the sons and daughters—that always come back for more consolation.
Are they not lovers of self rather than lovers of Christ, that always think of their own profit and gain?
Where shall you find one that is willing to serve and love God without any thought of gain?
Those that are spiritually minded enough to free themselves of all attachment to possessions are few and far between.
Who can find one that is truly poor in spirit and detached from all created things? Far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of him.
Even if a person gives up all his possessions, it is nothing. If he does many good works it helps him little. If he understands much, becomes a great example in virtue, and truly fervent in devotion, he still lacks a great deal—namely, that one thing that is most necessary. And what is it?
The most necessary thing is to forsake oneself and all personal interest. And even when that is done we should think of it as having done nothing at all. For “when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: ‘We are unprofitable servants.’”
Having left ourselves and our self-interest behind, we become poor and naked in spirit, and say with the prophet: “For I am alone and poor” (Psalm 24:16). But no one is richer than in such a condition.
No one is more powerful, no one more free, than he that can leave himself and all things, and set himself in the lowest place.
Geert Groote, 1340-1384, Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life, Deventer, Netherlands